As a mother, you want your child to know that you’ll always be there for them when they need it the most. But what happens when you’re all they have left? Because of their addiction, they can no longer turn to others in the family — their siblings, another parent, grandparents, aunt and uncles — who don’t understand what they’re going through or may have even cut off contact altogether.
You, their mother, remain steadfast in your support. This causes tension and friction with your partner and within your family. Yet, how can you walk away now, when they’re struggling the most? You can’t abandon your child, especially now as they struggle with addiction, but you know things can’t continue the way they’re going.
How do I know when it’s time to make a change without completely walking away from my child?
Cutting off contact and walking away isn’t an option for you, but things are getting worse and worse. Here’s what you’re experiencing:
Do you find yourself trying these methods to justify your actions and explain to those around you why you can’t just walk away, even when your child continues to treat you badly?
Method 1: You hide what’s happening from those around you. You don’t talk to anyone about the latest crisis your child has experienced and how you helped them, yet again. You do things like getting rid of bank statements so your partner doesn’t know you gave them money, yet again. You don’t want anyone to know for fear of them getting upset.
Method 2: You make excuse after excuse for your child’s actions. You explain their addiction away as childhood trauma they experienced, the mental illness they were diagnosed with, the way they were treated as a child by another family member. You find a way to justify their actions in every way possible without actually “blaming” the addiction itself.
Method 3: You explain to your partner and other kids that they are hurting your child. Their unwillingness to help and support their loved one by cutting off contact or being mean with their words and actions are doing damage to your child as they struggle with addiction. You constantly point out their actions, causing even more tension among everyone.
Clearly these methods aren’t working. It’s time to try something new, something that doesn’t include abandoning your child.
When you learn to Love Another Way, your family relationships will begin to improve. The small steps you take when you’re fully prepared will mean your family members will take small steps of their own, leading to a point where there’s mutual respect. This will also allow you and them to create a more consistent message, something that your child will need to choose recovery over addiction. This consistency is much more important than the exact choice you make in any given situation when interacting with your child struggling with addiction.
Learn to love your child in a way that does not enable this addiction but rather supports him or her in the way they need supporting. Learn to Love Another Way instead of opting for the intuitive way we usually love and support our children.
Why is it important to Love Another Way?
Understand that people with addiction will take and take and take — that’s the nature of the disease. You need to be the one to make a change in the way you love your child and say “no” to the disease, otherwise you are fueling a growing fire and enabling behavior and actions that don’t encourage the choice of recovery.
Also understand that your other family members want and need you to be present in their lives. They watch your child’s addiction take your time, love, and attention away from nurturing your relationships with them. They remember what it was like before things got bad, and they miss the “old you” and the time you used to spend together.
Today: Take this step.
Seek out the education you need to know how your child’s thinking has changed due to their addiction and how to support them the best way you know how. Research shows that those struggling with addiction (in lucid moments) rate their parent’s success in helping them as 2.4 out of 5, and the children themselves say this low rating is because parents are giving too much — not because parents aren’t giving enough.
Are you giving too much, too little, or just the right amount?
Use my “Get Out of the Middle” Worksheet to decide if your family or your child struggling with addiction is asking too much of you.
Get Out of the Middle Worksheet
Move on to Step 2: Watch my workshop to learn more.
I had a very hard time myself doing what felt like was “abandoning” my child in his time of need. Once I started to understand how I could Love Another Way, my perspective shifted. It became crystal clear to me that by continuing to support his addiction, I was actually abandoning him to the control of the disease.
Watch This Workshop for how to NOT Abandon Your Child